Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Jonathan Brunt, 25 October 1802

From Jonathan Brunt

George-Town, Oct 25, 1802


Last November I addressed a Pamphlet to you, from Schenectady, near Albany, (N.Y.S.) which I hope you received. As I have followed the Printing-Business in America without much success, thro’ the minds of the people being somewhat contaminated with corrupt speculations; (which is not actuated by a principle of laudable enterprize in honest Industry;) I hoped you would not be displeased if I enquired of you, if it would be practicable to get a place as a writer or copyist under your Government.

I am, Sir, your obedt. Servt.

Jonathan Brunt, printer

RC (DLC); at head of text: “Hon. Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 25 Oct. and so recorded in SJL.

Jonathan Brunt (b. 1760), an itinerant printer and bookseller from Beighton, Derby County, England, came to the United States in 1794. His acquaintances feared he was deranged, and they had him committed to New York’s City Hospital in December 1797 for 18 weeks. Over the next several years, his family sought his whereabouts and repeatedly attempted to persuade him to return to England. His Extracts, from Locke’s Essay on the Human Understanding and other Writers; containing a Defence of Natural, Judicial, and Constitutional Rights, on the Principles of Morality, Religion, & Equal Justice, against the Private and Public Intrigues of Artificial Society was printed and sold in Frankfort, Kentucky, in 1804 and included a short account of the publisher’s difficulties (Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends No. 3320). Brunt traveled widely, including to Canada and some of the southern states and visited TJ at Monticello on 27 Sep. 1807. Beginning in December 1809, TJ occasionally gave him a few dollars in charity (Brunt, Few Particulars of the Life of Jonathan Brunt Junior, Printer & Bookseller, 3d ed. [1797]; Boston Democrat, 17 Dec. 1806; MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1250, 1270, 1306; RS description begins J. Jefferson Looney and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, Princeton, 2004–, 7 vols. description ends , 1:403n, 4:168; Brunt to TJ, 30 Nov. 1807).

PAMPHLET: probably Rush’s Extracts, Containing the Evidences of Genuine Patriotism, and the Love of Our Country, printed for Brunt in 1801 by Elihu Phinney in Cooperstown, New York (Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819, New York, 1958–63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 245).

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